There is grumbling over the possible retention of Defense Secretary Robert Gates by President-elect Obama, among those who feel it is backtracking from the original impetus of the campaign–opposition to the war in Iraq.
In fact, the news that Iraq’s parliament overwhelmingly passed the status of forces agreement, (meaning they had more democratic involvement in the course of the war than the American people) probably means that the new President fulfilled his objective even before taking office.
One year ago, there was little expectation that the Bush administration would even discuss any dates for withdrawl. But by the time Obama won the Democratic nomination, there was an about face to begin discussions. His trip to Iraq, when the Iraqi prime minister outlined terms for ending the American occupation, sped the process along.
There is now a substantial likelihood that American forces can leave on the timetable Obama has campaigned on, because both sides expect them to come home.
As has been the case in the other multi-trillion-dollar mistake George Bush is leaving him with, the President-elect understands that his most important power is the ability to motivate the other 350 million of us, and in some cases, leaders and nations around the globe. In three straight press conferences, he provided the confidence to bring the stock market up five days in a row.
That power doesn’t have to wait until Jan. 20 because the lesson of his victory is that he’s putting the American people back in the drivers seat.